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Episcopalians value Scripture, Tradition and Reason equally. We often use the metaphor of a three-legged stool, with each leg of the stool contributing equally to our balanced approach.  Each of the three sources of authority must be perceived and interpreted in light of the other two.

The Anglican approach to reading and interpreting the Bible is unique compared to many other denominations. While we, like all Christians, acknowledge the Bible (or the Holy Scripture) as the Word of God and completely sufficient to our reconciliation to God, we strongly believe that the Bible should be considered in the context of our own time and place.

Christianity has amassed two thousand years of experiencing God, of reading scripture, and of following Jesus. What these wise and loving people have said to us through the centuries is critical to our understanding and our behavior. The traditions of the Church connect all generations and give us guidance to continue the dialogue.

Episcopalians believe that every Christian must build an understanding and relationship with God, and to do that, God has given us intelligence and our own experience, which we refer to as “Reason.” Based on the text of the Bible itself, and what Christians have taught us about it through the ages, we then must sort out our own understanding of it as it relates to our own lives.

One thought on “Sources of Authority

  • April 17, 2024 at 3:42 pm

    I owe my membership in the Episcopal Church to two gifts provided by the Anglican Tradition. In addition, there is a personal reason that relates to my mother’s experience during the Great Depression.

    The gifts are the “Elizabethan Settlement” and the “Three Legged Stool (Reason, Scripture, and Tradition) approach to a spiritual life. The two features provide a way to maintain a scientific perspective and a metaphorical understanding of Scripture. The “Elizabethan Settlement” provides me an opportunity to interpret Scripture and Tradition in a way that is meaningful to me.

    My personal reason is centered upon the life giving care that a Episcopal mission ina poor neighborhood which my 12 year old mother lived in 1930. The mission gave her hope, food, and clothing that helped her to survive. I would not have existed if my mother was a victim of the Great Depression. I owe the Church and the mission priest, Father Marshall Becoe, my life (and the lives of my daughter and three grandchildren).


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